It was a normal day. Just like every other Wednesday. Miriam* got the kids off to school, straightened out the house, put in a load of laundry and then left for her volunteer job delivering hot meals to families spending hours at a hospital bedside. Continue reading A Small Drink…A Big Thank You
It’s 1:30 on a long summer Friday afternoon. There are twelve vehicles parked in the parking lot of Park Enav in Modi’in. The doors open and fifty-eight (!) children burst out of the cars ready for an afternoon of fun. Who are they?
Each one has a different story but the common denominator is that each one is living through a nightmare that no child should ever know. One has lost a parent to cancer, another is battling cancer himself and a third came home one day to find that his mother had gone on a simple shopping trip never to come home again due to a terror attack. Continue reading Nightmare: the Common Denominator
Many years ago there had been a place called Lottie’s kitchen. It was a small kitchen in a home teeming with chessed. Lottie, a culinary expert, produced trays and trays of goodies which were largely consumed by her many friends. They would gravitate to this island of warmth and compassion to discuss their personal woes with a woman who seemed to have never-ending patience.
Lottie and her husband and partner in chessed, Chaim, have since passed on. Their four daughters deemed it appropriate to found Lottie’s Kitchen in Israel under the auspices of Ezer Mizion. It is there that nutritious, attractive meals are produced, packed and delivered to family members sitting at the bedside of a hospitalized loved one. Women of all ages volunteer– from teens to the sprightly 85-year-old golden-ager who makes her way to Lottie’s Kitchen with a walker. She had been a chef in her younger years. Her day at Lottie’s Kitchen enables her to make use of her skills and offer advice to the younger set. For the elderly, it is a two-way chessed as it enables them to have structure to their day and meet with similarly minded women as they work.
Israel hospitals do not provide more than basic medical care for its patients. The nursing staff is unable to take the time for the little extras that can make all the difference to a patient’s spirit. A family member therefore, tries to be there for as much as possible of the 24-hour day. Running from work responsibilities to home responsibilities and then making a mad dash to take over a shift at the hospital does not leave the caretaker much time or emotional space to even think of her own needs. A coke and a bag of chips from the hospital vending machine will often be her only fare for weeks. Distraught, tense, worn out, a mother will sit with her six year old, trying to distract him from the constant question of “Mommy, when will Hashem make the leukemia go away?”
And then, like an angel, there enters a Lottie’s Kitchen volunteer with a steaming hot, delicious meal. She’ll offer her a chance to talk, to share her story, to ask advice. Mommy can’t believe it. Someone is caring for the caretaker!
Orders are filled – some of them very specific. Any meals left over at the end of the day will be given to the dialysis patients who find it so difficult to go back to normal routine just hours after treatment.
Nechama, the head cook, considers herself just a small cog in the wheel of chessed. But those at Lottie’s Kitchen know that it is she that creates the ambience of giving, of loving. More and more. The Lottie’s Kitchen Family was treated to a trip to pray at the holy places in Israel. Nechama would have loved to join but she realized she would have to cut corners in her cooking. To give ‘her’ people anything less than perfection was unthinkable. So she opted out, citing a quote from the Chofetz Chaim’s book, Ahavas Chessed, that doing chessed is an especially opportune time to pray. ”I won’t lose out at all,” she assured her friends as they boarded the bus.
Lottie’s Kitchen, one of the many divisions of Ezer Mizion, an empire of chessed.
In light of the increase in the number of patients in Beersheba and the environs and a sharp rise in their needs, representatives of Ezer Mizion-Southern Region approached the Bet Moriah community and suggested a collaboration between Ezer Mizion and community volunteers. Continue reading The Negev Comes to Life
Mazel tov’s were resounding in room after room as newborns arrived to the joy of their families. But one room was quiet. A new baby was born but something was wrong. It seemed to be a heart defect. The doctors conferred. Top Israeli pediatric cardiologists were called in for consultations. The defect was a rare one and none of the specialists had any experience with it. A solution had to be found soon. Rabbi Shimon Rogoway, Director of Ezer Mizion’s Medical Referral Department, was brought into the picture. “Yes, I do know of a doctor who has experience in this type of defect but he’s in Boston. Continue reading Of Saving Lives and Beeping Phones
We stood at the door, needy and poor
Searched for words, but none would appear.
For you, Leah, mere words could never express,
Just a hot and glistening tear.
For whatever we’d say, any words we’d outpour
You were so, so much more…
You were so, so much more…
A mother and daughter, sister and wife,
Your “flock” always there at your side,
With devotion and will, and always so calm,
Your children you gently would guide.
You had such a pure and pleasant demeanor,
Your genuine joy captivated.
You knew to be silent, even in pain,
A true inner wholeness radiated
I felt your strong image obligating us all,
For we saw a life story of courage,
A tale – short, yet long – from which we must learn,
An epic to urge and encourage.
I saw your figure arousing, demanding –
So simple, yet sincerely so pure.
Teaching: What value has a transient world
Versus Torah heights that endure?
I merited seeing how one can and must
Live with rivers of flowing love
For every mitzvah, for each creature,
And for the Creator above.
I had a walking textbook before my eyes,
Of how to feel the pulse of time as it flies.
Pearls carefully strung, pieces of life
Stories too many to count,
You were… You said…
You left us a legacy…
A wondrous lifetime account.
Volunteering at your bedside was a privilege indeed,
Your radiant character inspiring,
Days and nights, how you hoped and believed,
I was awed by your faith, never tiring.
You lay in your bed, wounded and aching,
Your body, in agony and pain
Yet you did all to give a good feeling, a sweet,
Thanking us again and again.
As the sand in your hourglass neared to its end,
You knew how to utilize your time.
To inquire about our new job, a shidduch to suggest,
As if you were feeling in your prime.
Your modesty was rare, O, what a loss!
You were a sacrifice, for the rest to atone.
They surely rejoiced up Above when you came,
But, Leah, we were left here, alone!
We’ve lost mother and daughter, sister and wife,
Our finest, alas, has moved on!
Our heads are bowed, we weep on end,
The “thorns” need their “rose,” but she’s gone…
I know that the prayers and the tears that were shed
Carved into our hearts their impression
They built and transformed, worked wonders indeed,
With their painful, yet penetrating lesson.
For, we, too, want to be pure as were you,
To rise above matter, beyond “why”
And, like Leah, to amass innumerable merits,
To lead a life of truth, to try.
The final lines, the music fades,
The tears are reluctantly dried.
I’ve written and shared, yet my words cannot paint
Your greatness – I’m just not qualified
No, I just couldn’t capture your towering image,
Not your life, nor the secret of who you are.
All we can do is to learn and to yearn
To be like you, though we are so far.
See, Leah, the fruits of your labor,
The light that you kindled still glows
It continues to shine and illuminate
The Kiddush Hashem yet grows.
The paths that you blazed, rare in their beauty
Many more will yet tread them again,
For this path is not far, it’s within our reach
“Yisgadal v’yiskadash shmei rabbah,” Amen.
What happens afterwards? The thousands of members of Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life, a WhatsApp group, routinely answer each beep of their phone to see if they are able to respond to the next emergency. They probably wonder what happens after they pick up vital medication or drive someone to a hospital. Read on to see what happened after one Linked to Life volunteer responded to a request to drive a group of volunteers to Rambam Hospital. Continue reading A Volunteer Wonders What Happens Afterwards
I’ll admit it. I had a negative thought there for a moment. I picked up a woman at one of the major hospitals and drove her miles to the city in which she lived. For an instant, I couldn’t help wondering why she called for a volunteer. Couldn’t she have gone by bus? She looked fine, spoke in an upbeat manner, even joked a bit. I’m happy to help people out. After all, that’s why I joined Ezer Mizion’s Linked to Life but from what I could see, I wondered if she really needed help. Continue reading Their Role/ Our Role
It’s interesting. When I was in second grade, my math teacher told me that if we take away, the total amount is less. When I grew up, I found it wasn’t true. If giving my time, my energy, my expertise made me have less in the end, then why would I and 9,000 of my fellow Linked to Life members race to click on any request that comes in and do our best to respond whenever possible? Second grade math teachers notwithstanding, giving away plusses so much more to our lives. Continue reading Linked to Life: One Week
Some say that the new generation is steeped in materialism and can’t see past their ipod screens. Is it true? A recent event in Israel honoring junior volunteers yielded some surprises.
Last summer, M, a sixth grader, noticed something strange going on in her neighbor’s home. Continue reading Volunteering: What the Kids Have Discovered